My first-year experience at Toastmasters

I joined Toastmasters International to develop my public speaking skills, improve my communication and leadership skills and overcome a fear of the stage. I also wanted to meet like-minded people who have similar goals. I then learned that after successfully completing several projects, you can earn certificates and participate in contests where you can even become a champion of public speaking. Wow, all of that you can gain at Toastmasters!

In a structured Toastmasters meeting, members deliver prepared speeches or serve in various meeting roles. I have so far given four speeches in my own club and one in Las Vegas, USA. And I have volunteered as a Welcomer, Meet & Greet, Warm-Up Master, Timekeeper, and as Table Topics Master – my favourite role. Members of Toastmasters are a diverse group; our current members come from the UK of course, but also from Australia, Sweden, Poland, Romania, and the Czech Republic. I myself am from the Czech Republic and speaking at Toastmasters in a language that is not my mother language can be sometimes quite challenging, especially when the grammarian introduces a new word I have never heard of before. But we can all manage as we practise in a very supportive, understanding, and safe environment.

It has been a year since I joined this club, and I must admit I am so glad I did. Not only have I improved in delivering speeches, but I have also met lovely people who inspire and motivate me on my journey. I have also made some new friends there.

Through the pandemic in 2020 when I joined, Toastmasters meetings were only available online via Zoom. I enjoyed the meetings, as they were my only online social thing at that time. I must admit I was not fully attentive in most Zoom meetings, sometimes I even turned the camera off while doing other activities such as cooking dinner. I was distracted a lot, my attention span and listening skills were so bad! I am so glad it all changed several months later when our Toastmasters club returned to meeting in person, which was very different from Zoom meetings. I started working harder and booked speeches and roles for nearly every meeting for 2-3 months in advance. By coming to the in-person meetings I am much more connected to Toastmasters. I have finally completed level 1 and aim to finish level two in 2 months and level 3 by the end of year 2022. ๐Ÿ˜Š

While delivering speeches, I learned about stage presence, the importance of humour (thereโ€™s a lot of that at every meeting) and also about pauses and eye contact.

Then I took part in Table Topics (Impromptu Speaking). Sometimes I feel out of my comfort zone, but it is lovely to see people progressing and growing in confidence and I know that is happening to me too. I started to think on my feet and speak in an organized manner. Now I can speak about anything without visibly sweating in front of the audience. ๐Ÿ˜Š

But online Toastmasters clubs are also a great opportunity. I have visited other clubs worldwide as a guest and have had a chance to speak there too! So far, I have visited online clubs in Las Vegas, USA; Canberra, Melbourne, and Sydney, Australia; Prague, Czech Republic; Budapest, Hungary; Dublin, and I intend to visit many more! I got inspired and motivated that I can become a great public speaker and perform on the stage and become an international speaker! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Toastmasters helped me to be more at ease when speaking in front of others. Successful speakers practise public speaking in front of live audiences who provide constructive feedback. Well, members of Toastmasters speak in front of live audiences who provide constructive feedback, as well! I have been learning the skills I need to effectively express myself in any situation and how to be more persuasive and confident when giving speeches. Joining Toastmasters can help you achieve your personal and professional goals.

Thank you, all lovely members, for my progress, encouragement, and fun on our meetings! Toastmasters you rock!ย 

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